China said Saturday it was closely watching the U.S. detainment of toothpastes from China and urged the U.S. side to clarify the facts and solve the problem in a prompt and proper way.
An official with the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine said the U.S. importers have submitted the formula of China's toothpaste exports to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) before shipment and the content level of diethylene glycol (DEG) were indicated on the packaging.
"All the toothpastes were registered with the FDA and approved to be distributed in the United States, so they contradicted themselves by warning consumers to avoid using China-made toothpastes and detaining shipments from China," said the official.
On June 1, the FDA warned consumers to avoid using tubes of toothpaste labeled as made in China, and issued an import alert to prevent toothpaste containing the poisonous chemical DEG from entering the United States.
The Chinese toothpaste exporters listed on the import alert included: Cooldent Fluoride; Cooldent Spearmint; Cooldent ICE; Dr. Cool, Everfresh Toothpaste; Superdent Toothpaste; Clean Rite Toothpaste; Oralmax Extreme; Oral Bright Fresh Spearmint Flavor; Bright Max Peppermint Flavor; ShiR Fresh Mint Fluoride Paste; DentaPro; DentaKleen; and DentaKleen Junior, according to the FDA website.
FDA inspectors identified and detained one shipment of toothpaste at the U.S. border, containing about 3 percent DEG by weight. They found and tested toothpaste products from China located at a distribution center and a retail store. The highest level found was between 3-4 percent by weight.
In 2000, Chinese experts claimed after carrying out tests on 1,965 people that toothpaste containing less than 15.6 percent of DEG was harmless for humans. So far there have been no reports of people being poisoned by toothpaste containing DEG.
In addition, the U.S. side allows the use of DEG in food addictive according to its laws and the FDA said on its website "it is not aware of any U.S. reports of poisonings from toothpaste containing DEG".
The official said the Chinese administration would increase its scrutiny on feed imports from the United States because the FDA said melamine and related compounds have been found in products used in feed production.
China has urged quality control organizations at all levels to keep close watch on this issue and would take actions if necessary, said the official.
The safety of Chinese food and drug products has been in the news lately. China has blamed Panamanian traders for falsifying documents on a Chinese chemical product that resulted in the deaths of dozens of Panamanian people who ingested tainted cough syrup and confirmed the alleged toxic toothpaste imported from China to Panama met safety standards.
"Over the past two years, the acceptance rate of China's food exports to the United States has hovered around 99 percent, slightly higher than that of U.S. food exports to China," said Li Yuanping, an official in charge of food import and export safety.(Source: Xinhua )